Regional Planning News

This is a guest post by Pamela Galloway.

Goin’ north, the rush is on
Several governmental actions this week are worthy of note.  The Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Governing Board  (TMRPGB), which consists of representatives from Reno and Sparks city councils as well as county commissioners, agreed to turn nearly 560 acres over to the City of Reno.  This land, located some 1,700 feet south of the U.S. 395 and Red Rock Road interchange, lies in the Reno-Stead Joint Corridor. This overturns a previous denial by the Regional Planning Commission.
What does it all mean?  This land, zoned general rural (one home per 40 acres), moves into Reno without any designated zoning.  Known as Echeverria Peavine MPA, it will become eligible for major residential and warehousing development.  According to a dated City of Reno link (below), this could involve some 1,380 residential units and 80 acres of warehousing.  (This has not, however, been approved yet by the Reno City Council and, given its size, it might have to return to the Regional Planning Governing Board.  So these numbers could change, but one gets the idea this is very large and will have significant impact in the north.)
The dated link is an eye-opener about how extensive the development is planned for the North Valleys.  It lists some 15,393 single family and 1,676 multi-family homes planned. I include it to give the reader an idea about the sheer magnitude of City of Reno development planned in the north, and because I could not find a more recent chart.  This does not include commercial/industrial.
New Washoe County schools create significant impacts
When are new or expanded schools considered to be of sufficient regional significance to warrant having more eyes watching what the district is doing?
That was the subject of of some conflicting debate Thursday, also before the TMRPG.  While it is too late to alter the soon-to-be-built Wildcreek high school, a handful of citizens discussed it during public comment, lamenting overburdened roadways, noise, student drug use, and more.  One man said neighbors had been protesting this school for more than two years.  Once constructed, students from Hug High School, Spanish Springs and other schools will go to the Wildcreek school, relieving overcrowding.
Another public commenter stated that Wildcreek will cost between $200-300 million.  Because of the passage of WC-1 in the 2016 election, she said, WCSD will be flush with an unending cash flow for new schools forever.
(I note that a future middle school on Arrowcreek Parkway also generated much citizen opposition.  In both cases, flooding was a concern.  The middle school will have two detention ponds to protect nearby neighbors.)
Reno City Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus said she had not agreed with the Wildcreek development (of a public golf course), and would have preferred that students be moved temporarily while renovating Hug High School, and then returning them to that school.  County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung complained that this school had great impacts on traffic, roads, and much else.  He wants any school facility that serves more than 800 students (or he states is a middle school or high school) to be deemed of “regional significance”.  This would result in more oversight beyond the school district and school board.
Some conflicting opinions ensued, apparently around when outsiders such as the regional board become involved in reviewing projects and making final decisions (during or after).  For this reason, it was decided to postpone this until two absent members could be present.  Hartung in particular was adamant that no vote be taken until absent members are present.  Several mentioned problems created for the Regional Transportation Commission.
WCSD CEO Pete Etchart said the school district wants to be transparent and accountable, and wants to be included in the upcoming Regional Plan update.  The schools had no money for a long time, he said, and so now are “behind the curve” in land acquisitions for new schools. He mentioned in passing a five-year facilities plan but offered no specifics.
Powering up with Makita
Reno City Council approved a massive Makita power tools plant on Military Road in Stead this week.  Councilwoman Brekhus described its size as being on the order of Meadowood Mall, but with less land.  Located near the flooding Swan Lake, it will have its own retention pond to handle an estimated 500,000 gallons daily of sewage.  It is also estimated to generate some 1,400 car/truck trips daily with employees cars and business trucks.  A spokesman said it does not expect to have any impact on Swan Lake.
Vocal Lemmon Valley residents, who have advocated for a building moratorium in the closed basin until flooding problems are fixed, were not reassured. One pointed out that two other large commercial buildings have retention ponds that sit empty, not used while their sewerage flows into a Swan Lake sewer plant.  This 40-foot-tall facility is located directly across the street from a new residential subdivision under construction. Councilwoman Naomi Duerr requested that incoming/exiting trucks do so away from the houses, which involves revising the plans.  She mentioned headlights not bothering homeowners at night.  Brekhus was concerned about visual impacts, what would be situated on the rooftop. This had previously been denied by the Reno Planning Commission, so represents another overturned decision.
And in the southeast, Daybreak’s four massive projects hit pause
The four highly controversial “Daybreak” projects situated along Veterans Parkway have been placed on hold.  This was announced earlier this week during a Reno Ward 3 NAB (neighborhood advisory board) meeting.  Someone’s surgery was given as the reason for this timeout.  Daybreak properties run from Rio Wrangler to Hidden Valley, including the Butler Ranch.  Opponents say this includes the Truckee Meadows’ last remaining flood plain, and suffers very serious flooding issues at times.  Proponents say it can be engineered so flooding is not an issue.  Opponents say yes, but what about all the areas around it that would be impacted?  Daybreak spokesperson Andy Durling told officials several months ago that this is not Daybreak’s problem.
More information about Daybreak is available from this website:  <info@uppersoutheastcommunitiescoalition.com>

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